El Dorado

Town History - Gold Discovery, Early Citizenry, Legends

Historic Sites - Local Ruins, Relics, Buildings & Scenery

Travelers' Tips - Directions, Museums, Lodging, &c

Town History

      Before the discovery of gold, Mud Springs was an important stop on the old Carson Emigrant Trail. Travelers would pause here to water their cattle and other stock, resulting in muddy ground about the springs, hence the name. The name also helped to distinguish these springs from nearby Diamond Springs.
      One of the first settlers to actually stay in Mud Springs was James Thomas who erected a trading post and hotel in the winter of 1849/50 called the Mud Springs House. With the discovery of gold in the area, the miners began to arrive by the score. They pitched their tents and panned the creeks, and before long established quite a mining center. It was also a crossroads for freight and stage lines, as the road from Sacramento forked at Mud Springs, one branch leading on to the wild camp known as Hangtown, the other turning south and heading to the Southern Mines.
      By 1851, the camp was booming. Adding to the wealth provided by the rich placers, several quartz veins were discovered which resulted in the erection of numerous steam quartz mills on Matheneys and Logtown creeks. These mills, combined with the various mines and workings in the area, provided employment to not less than five hundred men. Mud Springs was booming, and later that year a post office was established under that name.
      While the town may have been known and referred to as El Dorado as early as the summer of 1855, the name did not officially change until December 15 of that year when the name of the post office was changed to El Dorado.
      By this time the camp had incorporated as a town, and included the areas known as Empire Ravine, Dead Mans Hollow, Loafers Hollow, Logtown Creek, Matheneys Creek, and Slate and Dry creeks.
      At its peak, El Dorado had a population which numbered in the thousands and had its “full quota of saloons, hotels and stores, and a gold production record that gave its citizens just cause for pride.” Such mines as the Pocahontas, the Church, the Union, and others lost and forgotten, helped provide that gold production record, estimated at several million dollars.
  • A Stone Monument is located on the Mother Lode Highway, a little ways west of where it joins Hwy 49. The monument gives a brief description of the town and tells of the days when the Pony Express made regular stops here at the Nevada House in 1860 and ’61.
  • The Wells Fargo Express Office was built during the 1850’s. Located near the stone monument, the building is still in use today, although no longer by Wells Fargo. Look for the exposed stone wall to identify this building.

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